The ability to use online applications offline moved a step closer yesterday with the launch of Adobe AIR – a run-time module that allows Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) to function on the desktop.

In addition to providing a powerful environment for developing engaging RIA user interfaces based on web technologies such as HTML, Ajax, PDF, Adobe Flash and Adobe Flex, the launch of Adobe AIR also allows developers to build some offline functions into their online tools.

eBay benefits

One example where this could benefit an end user is in the ability to set up an eBay auction listing offline and then put it live with a single command the next time an internet connection is established.

Adobe AIR is now offered to Windows and OS X users, with a Linux version to follow later in the year. RIAs already utilising the benefits of Adobe AIR include eBay Desktop, Discovery Channel’s EarthLive, NASDAQ Market Replay and AOL Music.

Other run-time modules that provide a similar function include Microsoft Silverlight and Google Gears. Some commentators believe that the advanced functionality of these programs could spell the end for traditional Java desktop applications.